Sunday, October 28, 2007

Victorian Baseball

I am a Red Sox fan. I have been for lo these many years, and have experienced the highs, and far more often the lows, of watching my team. I know a little about the history of the team, and I know for sure that baseball was originally created in Victorian times. I've even read a about in in a Civil War diary, which mentions a baseball "club" instead of a bat. It was very exciting, because when I read it, I thought "Wow, I can use baseball in a book! Yay!". I decided I would have my characters in my WIP go to a game. They do, after all, spend some time in Boston. What could be more fun than a Red Sox game?

Except the Red Sox weren't around in 1886.

No!!! Say it ain't so!!

I know there was a field, I know Boston had a team. But it wasn't the Red Sox, darn it all.

So I started to research.

The rules of baseball were written up in 1845. It was well established as a sport by the 1860's and I have heard that the Civil War spread its popularity. The first paid team was the Cincinnati Red Stockings in 1869, and the National League was established in 1876.

Other 19th century teams (all in the National League, by the way):
The Braves (1871), The Cardinals(1882), The Cubs(1874), The Dodgers(1884), The Giants(1879), The Phillies(1880), The Pirates(1882) and the Reds(1882).

The Yankees and Red Sox both started in 1901, still technically the Victorian Era, but not the time period I write in. I expect the rivalry was established at the same time. It seems, though, that the rivalry between the two cites--Boston and New York--may have started earlier, when there were two versions of the game--yes, you guessed it, the "New York Game" and "The Massachusetts Game". I believe, although I cannot find it anywhere presently, that the Massachusetts Game allowed an out to be made if you threw the baseball at the player and hit him. I've heard that the balls were not as hard back then. Still, it does seem, um, fortunate, that this rule was eventually thrown out.

All of which is fairly interesting but in no way useful to my book. I need to send my hero to a baseball game. I am determined!

And now after surfing for an hour, I know this. Boston's original team was called The Red Stockings, established in the National League in 1876. In 1883 they became the Beaneaters. (A horrible, horrible name for a sports team). In 1909 they changed the name again to the Pilgrims, (better) which only lasted until 1912. Then they became The Braves. The team still exists under this name, only now they are the Atlanta Braves.

So there I have it. My hero is going to a--I can't believe I'm going to write this--Beaneaters game. Why on earth would anyone ever name a sports team something like that? And how on earth am I ever going to write that without laughing? I suppose I won't. I can hear my characters laughing now over the new name.

Next, I'm going to have to find out where they played ball. But that's for tomorrow. Today is about swallowing the fact that my city once actually named a team the Beaneaters. And enjoying my favorite team play in the World Series, even if they weren't playing as long ago as I had hoped.



Susan Macatee said...

Great blog!

I'd love to see a baseball game in a Victorian romance.

I love baseball, too. Unfortunately my team, the Philadelphia Phillies, didn't last long in the playoffs, but I fully expect to see them do better next year.

And the Beaneaters! Yikes! I can't imagine anyone keeping a straight face after hearing that one.

Anonymous said...

Didn't the Sox win last night?

I can't recall reading about baseball in fiction book. In fact, I can't remember reading about any sport except tennis and croquet in historical fiction.

But I'm not sure I'd root for the Beaneaters. Maybe you don't have to mention the name of the team? :)

Jennifer Linforth said...

Beaneaters? Are they playing the Frankfurters? The Hotdogs? The Butterbuns? The DillyBeans?

I have to stop there... great blog!